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Pay up sucka!

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It has blown my mind how many times this conversation has happened in the short three months we have been open.


Customer "My car is broke"


Me "This is how much to fix it"


C "Sounds great, go ahead"


(we fix the car for the exact price quoted ((very efficiently, if I may add))


Me "Your car is done and ready for pick up"


C "Oh... I don't have the money, it may be a week or two before I can get it"


This makes me want to scream!!!!! Why bring your car and agree to get it fixed if you don't have the money to pay for it? At least let me know that up front so I don't have money wrapped up in parts. I could then fix the car the day before they are ready to get it. I feel like it would be rude and unprofessional for me to ask for money up front but I think that is where I am headed so that I can weed this thing out. It is very frustrating.


Any of you have this problem? Or any thoughts on the matter?

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I'm stuck on one now that had been incorrectly diagnosed and "fixed" by another shop. Customer approved the required amount to resolve a very major oil leak and a very major diesel fuel leak and some other items just to get the vehicle where we could diagnose it. Was told multiple times that this was just a starting point. Now they dont feel that its fair that the repairs didn't fix the truck and wont pay!


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I run into that a few times a month. Many of the folks will ask if they can make payments. NOPE!! I do let them know if they leave the car it will acrue storage charges after a period of time. That will generaly get them moving. It is tough when ya got operating capitol tied up.

That's generally what I do, it's amazing how fast they come up with the cash when you tell them a storage charge is going to be added. Oh, and one more thing.... these are usually not repeat customers, so don't be surprised if they feel its neccessary to unload a mouthful on ya when they finally get by to pick their car up.


(You should check out a few of my articles... LOL or my book... done it, had it happen, and wrote a book about it)

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(You should check out a few of my articles... LOL or my book... done it, had it happen, and wrote a book about it)


Your book is great, Gonzo ... I just bought it before our vacation last week and was rolling on the floor laughing during the flight down to MX !!

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"I feel like it would be rude and unprofessional for me to ask for money up front but I think that is where I am headed so that I can weed this thing out. It is very frustrating."

Don't you feel they are rude to you, by practically lying to you about their ability to pay? I suspect that in a short period of time you will be able to "read" their telegraphed messages and figure out what's inside'em.

I am wondering if your prices aren't too low Pj,

If you don't have a couple of people a week complaining that you are too high, you are most likely too low.

Low prices tend to attract people that can't pay. If you feel that you can't up your rates instantaneously, at least post a big sign - Storage fee $37.76 a day :)

If they ask why such a weird number, tell them it's $7.00 for storage and $30.76 for the aggravation.

See how that works for them...

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thanks for the book plug Wes, appreciate it.


Quoting nmikmik, "Low prices tend to attract people that can't pay." Well, ... sort of... I would say it differently, "Low prices bring in customers who can't afford paying for a total repair, but some sort of Band-Aid and make they always want you to make it cheap." From my past experiences these are not only the toughest to deal with but tend to be the most argumentative. (Actually, if you took the very high end customer and the very low end customer the arguments they generally have are basically the same. The rich do it because they can afford it but still want something for nothing, while the poorer cliental do it because they can't afford it and really could use something for nothing. and...as the mechanic....you're stuck in the middle.)


My favorite ones are the kind that come in with some broken down, POS, and you do the minimum you can, but of course it's never enough, you tell them what "really" needs done and not based on their pocket book prices but the actual repair that it needs.... what do they always blurt out to you..."I'm calling my lawyer." I laugh, giggle, and sometimes fall back in my chair. Seriously, you've got a lawyer on retainer but you're driving this bucket of rusted metal around? ROFL... LMAO!


Years ago I'd deal with them, get what I could out of them and move on.... anymore...nope, nada, ain't happenin. Like I said, I know the outcome, I've seen it before, Heck...I wrote the book...LOL

I just tell them to move on to the next shop cause it ain't getting done here. Pass it on to the new guy on the block...time for him to learn the lessons that I've learned from doing this job for so long.

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Our flat rate is $90 an hour and we use a %20 adjuster to mark up every job to account for rust and what not. And our parts mark up is pretty good. I have deducted it being that our building does not look good or professional. I have it scheduled to be painted and new signs installed in 3-4 weeks. I think that should help pur clientele base a bit.

(And I will check out Gonzo's book)

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I have them sign an authorization sheet before we start of the vehicle explaining that if they take the vehicle somwhere else they are subjected to a 25% part restocking fee. And if by some chance they do not have the money to pay for the repairs at the time of pick up I give them a couple of days to gather the money and then I start charging storage for the vehicle.

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  • Have you checked out Joe's Latest Blog?

      Got your attention? Good. The truth is, there is no such thing as the perfect technician pay plan. There are countless ways to create any pay plan. I’ve heard all the claims and opinions, and to be honest, it’s getting a little frustrating. Claims that an hourly paid pay plan cannot motivate. That flat rate is the only way to truly get the most production from your technicians. And then there’s the hybrid performance-based pay plan that many claim is the best.
      At a recent industry event, a shop owner from the Midwest boasted about his flat-rate techs and insisted that this pay plan should be adopted by all shops across the country. When I informed him that in states like New York, you cannot pay flat-rate, he was shocked. “Then how do you motivate your techs” he asked me.
      I remember the day in 1986 when I hired the best technician who ever worked for me in my 41 years as an automotive shop owner. We’ll call him Hal. When Hal reviewed my pay plan for him, and the incentive bonus document, he stared at it for a minute, looked up, and said, “Joe, this looks good, but here’s what I want.” He then wrote on top of the document the weekly salary he wanted. It was a BIG number. He went on to say, “Joe, I need to take home a certain amount of money. I have a home, a wife, two kids, and my Harly Davidson. I will work hard and produce for you. I don’t need an incentive bonus to do my work.” And he did, for the next 30 years, until the day he retired.
      Everyone is entitled to their opinion. So, here’s mine. Money is a motivator, but not the only motivator, and not the best motivator either. We have all heard this scenario, “She quit ABC Auto Center, to get a job at XYZ Auto Repair, and she’s making less money now at XYZ!” We all know that people don’t leave companies, they leave the people they work for or work with.
      With all this said, I do believe that an incentive-based pay plan can work. However, I also believe that a technician must be paid a very good base wage that is commensurate with their ability, experience, and certifications. I also believe that in addition to money, there needs to be a great benefits package. But the icing on the cake in any pay plan is the culture, mission, and vision of the company, which takes strong leadership. And let’s not forget that motivation also comes from praise, recognition, respect, and when technicians know that their work matters.
      Rather than looking for that elusive perfect pay plan, sit down with your technician. Find out what motivates them. What their goals are. Why do they get out of bed in the morning? When you tie their goals with your goals, you will have one powerful pay plan.
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